Thursday, May 29, 2014

State budget issues likely to linger, but pop and cupcakes get addressed now

The best I can tell as of now, the Illinois General Assembly is going to approve a financial concoction for a state budget that will require them to come back later (perhaps during the fall veto session) to take actions that will prevent the state from developing long-term difficulties.

Pay off the Legislature in cupcakes
The bottom line is that our state officials are too preoccupied with Election Day factors to want to take a firm stance now. They want to put off until tomorrow what they should have addressed years ago.

NOW HAVING FOLLOWED the activity of state government for just over two full decades, I’m used to the concept of the Legislature thinking it can postpone problems until it is more comfortable dealing with them.

Which is why I find it comical to see what issues do become priorities for the General Assembly to deal with.

It literally came down to pop and cupcakes earlier this week. Both came before the Legislature, although the issue of carbonated soft drinks is one that will continue to come before the Springpatch set in future years.

These are the issues that the legislators are comfortable dealing with, while pushing off the complicated stuff that is going to get them negative attention no matter how they vote.

ALTHOUGH I SUSPECT that even doing nothing will get them a negative blast.

But back to cupcakes and pop. The state Senate addressed the former issue, while the Illinois House of Representatives became involved with an overly complex handling of the latter.

Art? Or new source of income from taxes?
The whole cupcake issue was motivated by a kid in the Illinois-based suburbs of St. Louis whose attempt to sell cupcakes got shut down by county health authorities because she was baking the products in her home kitchen that was never inspected to ensure there were no health code violations.

The bill sponsored by state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, would have set up certain requirements so that people could operate bakery-type businesses from home if they register their kitchens and take a course in food sanitation.

BUT THAT GOT the ideologues amongst us all upset, saying they didn’t like the idea of requiring little kids to license their lemonade or cupcake stands. They banded together to kill the bill.

Statehouse priorities?
Which had some people saying the Legislature was abusing those kids with their stands. State Sen. James Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove – who also is Republican nominee for U.S. Senate – said he saw such kids as entrepreneurs. Which would make the concern for health issues an anti-business bill.

That caused the Illinois House to reconsider the bill with various amendments stripped out.

That finally got passed! Our Legislature took up the cause of a 12-year-old from Troy, Ill., so she can peddle cupcakes. Good for her.

THEN, THERE WAS the Illinois House, where a committee studied the issue of taxes on pop. A bill called for a one-cent per ounce excise tax increase on carbonated beverages. Which would drive up the cost of a bottle of pop.

It seems there are those people who want to treat pop the same way that cigarettes get treated – tack on so many taxes that the price shoots so high. If it winds up discouraging people from reaching for that extra can of pop like it sometimes keeps them from buying an extra pack of cigarettes, they see a purpose.

The House committee rejected the bill. Which means the idea is likely on the perpetual cycle of issues that will come up each year before the state Legislature.

Just like the budgetary problems that are likely to be deferred. Although why do I suspect that pop taxes will be solved before the state’s financial problems?


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